Interview: Chris McGlinchey (Vitus Pro Cycling p/b Brother UK)

Winner on Saturday night in the Zwift Classics Pro-Am series event, the Crit City Slam e-race, was Ireland’s Chris McGlinchey (Vitus Pro Cycling p/b Brother UK) – we chatted afterwards

Interview: Chris McGlinchey (Vitus Pro Cycling p/b Brother UK)

RELATED: Q&A 1: Chris McGlinchey (Vitus Pro Cycling p/b Brother UK)

Winner on Saturday night in the Zwift Classics Pro-Am series event, the Crit City Slam e-race, was Ireland’s Chris McGlinchey (Vitus Pro Cycling p/b Brother UK) – we chatted afterwards

The series has been good for the Vitus Pro Cycling p/b Brother UK team who won a team round of the series and saw Joey Walker second individually behind former pro, Dan Fleeman. With the Covid 19 virus having halted all sport, e-racing has made a comeback in 2020.

Last year post winter, e-racing was making a splash in the sport in something of a marmite sort of way but post winter in 2020, there was very little of it making the news until the sport on the road was halted in late March and teams and riders looked for a way to unleash their competitive spirit on a bike.

Now, a large majority of riders, everyone from WorldTour pros to club riders, are using the e-racing platform such as Zwift (there are others) to race and ride. One of the teams to embrace e-racing for many reasons is Vitus Pro Cycling p/b Brother UK.

Team owner Cherie Pridham explains that her team is enjoying their e-racing. “Over the past month, we’ve really worked hard on team communication and the well being of the riders during these strange times. On the Zwift platform, we’ve certainly found a common focus where the team have really focused on riding together whilst the racing has really given us a goal as a team.”

“We’ve ridden the e-courses using Zwift meet ups and used the platform as a way to share our commitment to our sponsors at a very difficult time. I have to give a lot of credit to the lads for the success they are having. We had a straight forward team talk between the five guys (Tom Mazzone, Mikey Mottram, Freddie Scheske, Chris McGlinchey and British Circuit Race Champion Joey Walker) with a clear plan to go for the win so I am buzzing and delighted for Chris”.

Provisional Result
1. Chris McGlinchey, Vitus Pro Cycling p/b Brother UK

8. Rory Townsend, Canyon DHB
11. John Archibald, Ribble Weldtite
18. Mikey Mottram, Vitus Pro Cycling p/b Brother UK
19. Ben Healy, Trinity
23. Tom Pidcock, Trinity
24. Dan Bigham, Ribble Weldtite
27. Jon Mould
45. Damien Clayton, Ribble Weldtite
49. Zak Bridges,
54. Zeb Kyffin, Ribble Weldtite

For Chris McGlinchey, the win was certainly a moment to remember. Chris, the Brand Marketing Manager for Vitus & Prime, came into the team in 2019 and he says it was brilliant to be part of the squad. “It was my first full season racing again and a bit of a learning curve”.

“I had to learn how British races are raced as in Ireland, I race aggressively and it’s fine to do that but here you need to leave something in the tank for the finish because it’s the last 30k that things happen.”

One of his highlights in 2019 was racing the Tour de Yorkshire. “That was an incredible experience and coming into the season this year, I had high expectations and goals and was training harder to meet those goals”.

Because of all that training, Chris has come into April 2020 with better form than he had this time last year and admits as he drank a beer to celebrate the victory, that he couldn’t help letting out a bit of a shout as he won the e-race on Saturday night. (see the race on YouTube here)

“It feels so weird compared to winning a race on the road as there is no –one else here to celebrate with me other than my partner.”

With no date set for when racing on the road will return, Chris admits that the team set new goals for the months where racing has been cancelled. “This has definitely been the main goal for the past month or so, to do well in these races. It is a great opportunity for the team to get some publicity for its sponsors whilst there is no actual road racing going on.”

“The production that Matt and Zwift do is brilliant, so it was definitely a goal to be in decent shape for it. There was another race this morning for Cycling Ireland that I decided to miss just to make sure the legs were good for this evening’s race.”

Chris admits that whilst the form is good, the training has had to be adapted to Zwift style racing and it’s taken a while to get it right. “It’s been trial and error for me. Last year there was the Zwift KISS league and I got a kicking in most rounds where I think my best result was top 20 or top 30.”

“It was about learning from your mistakes. Like road racing, you learn something from every race and you have to build on it and learn how to race effectively, how to conserve energy, and adjust little things about the set up. Like if you are trying to do it on a laptop screen, it’s quite hard with a small screen and difficult to read the race so in my garage, I have a decent sized TV screen connected to the laptop and I can concentrate on the race. You have to make sure there are enough fans, windows are open, and you’re giving yourself the best chance to perform.”

That means staying cool as overheating can affect a rider’s performance whether it’s e-racing or proper racing on the road in the great outdoors. “I just drink plenty of cold water and Namedsport energy drinks, wear my Velotec bib shorts and also my Megmeister sleeveless jersey to wipe the sweat away. I have two fans on my face as well.”

“It is all about trying to keep the body temperature down. I have heard of some people having an ice bucket beside them and putting a piece of ice down their back every few minutes to keep them cool but I haven’t had to go to that extreme yet!”

Chris admits it was helpful to knowing the course for the race he won. “I had only ridden it once before when it was 100km race a few months back. Fourty laps of the course, so I knew it quite well and that helps because you need to know where to go hard and where to ease up. If on Zwift you get dropped, it’s harder than getting dropped in the cross winds! It’s near on impossible to get back on if you get dropped so you need to make sure you constantly have power on the pedals”.

This change of racing for the team and being isolated from each other in person has meant team owner Cherie Pridham has had to introduce new ideas and one of them is the Discord app (aimed at gamers LoL) for audio get togethers which are a ‘scream’ says Cherie.

“I think it is brilliant” says Chris. “I have done the odd one and we are now probably chatting with each other more and riding with each more than we would have got the opportunity to do during a normal season when we would be training out on the roads on our own. It’s bringing the group closer together in these strange times and it’s really cool that the technology is there to allow everyone to chat and ride as a team even when we’re all in our own homes”.

The team go into the e-races after a team talk pre –race between Cherie and the riders racing and then, if things don’t go right, just like a normal race, there will be a debrief to discuss what they can learn from the race. For Chris, the race he won was simple enough. “There wasn’t a lot of tactics needed other than to survive and be near the front and be there for the last lap and the sprint”.

The race was called a Crit City Slam but Chris admits it is never like a standard crit. “It’s more like a time trial with surges” he says. “You can’t replicate a crit on Zwift because you don’t have to turn round corners, so it’s more of a constant effort rather than a normal crit where it’s sprinting out of a corner every five seconds. You see the likes of Rohan Dennis and others in the other Zwift races doing well so it seems to favour the TT guys who can put out big average power over a long period of time. There are still tactics but it still favours the power riders over a super lightweight rider.”

Mechanic Josh assembling the team’s new race bikes

The e-races at the moment seem to be separate for the WorldTour teams and the Conti teams but when asked would he like a Tour de Yorkshire style race on Zwift, Chris replies “that would be nice to race the world tour riders in for sure. I’d like to hope that something like that will be organised in the coming weeks and months.”

“For me, I had a good winter training and am in pretty good shape. I’m probably in better shape now than I was this time last year so I am trying to use Zwift to race and keep myself motivated to train because it is quite difficult if you don’t have a goal or something to train for and make the effort”.

“If you don’t have a goal to train for, it can be difficult to get out and put in the miles day-in, day-out and stay active as we don’t know how long this break in racing will last for. So you need to carry a decent level of base fitness in case we are told that in four weeks we are going to go back racing and we’ll be ready for that”.

The e-racing continues for Chris and his teammates with a series on Zwift sponsored by Vitus. Speaking of Vitus, I asked Chris does he make any changes to his bike when e-racing? “No” was the reply. “I just take the rear wheel out as the direct drive turbo trainers replicate the gradient on the roads so you still have to change gears if there’s a steep climb and so on”.

Discussing the bikes the team are on in 2020, the Vitus Vitesse Evo Disc (lightest bike in the Vitus range), Chris with his Vitus hat on, explained “we learnt in 2019 what we liked and what else we wanted for our race bikes and the Vitesse Disc is the perfect bike for British racing. It’s light weight, has disc brakes and is the perfect fit for the team. The colours (candy red) look stunning too so it was awesome to see them in the bunch before racing was stopped”.

“The style of the racing in the UK will suit this new bike too. The prems and the big UCI races like the Tour de Yorkshire and Tour of Britain have quite a lot of climbing, and fairly steep climbs as well, and I think that influenced the decision to go for the Vitesse over the ZX1 for 2020.”

Their bikes are equipped with SRAM again which Chris is pleased about. “SRAM Red AXS, for me, is incredible. The gear ratios are super impressive with a higher top end and bottom end so it’s better for the climbs going up and the descents.”

“So I’m super happy we are running SRAM again this year as it’s great for us as riders and it is so easy to set up which helps Josh and Pete, the mechanics. Two less wires to have to route, you can get the bikes built super easily, transfer rear mechs from one bike to another super easy and it just makes logistics super simple. It’s the perfect groupset in my opinion.”

Other slight changes include new Prime carbon wheels which are 100 gms lighter than last years and on them, new tyres from Schwalbe; a 25mm TT tyre for use on smooth roads and crits or the Pro One normal tyre for the grippier, rougher roads like they raced on in Belgium and France in March. They also get a choice of handlebars in 2020, the aero ones or now, a lighter climber’s handlebar too.

My thanks to Chris for the insight into his e-racing and the new team bikes and we wish him and he team well for future e-races and the road races when they return…

LOCKDOWN! With the team’s Chris McGlinchey in Ireland

Q: Your last race was and your memories of it were?
Chris: My last race with the team was my first race of the year which sounds strange saying that back! It was Le Samyn (Belgium, UCI 1,1). It was our first race of the season and a big one to get started. Memories of the race were great. It was the first time a lot of us had raced together with loads of fresh faces in the team and we were all super motivated to get going. Personally for me the race was just a great experience. I burnt loads of matches early doors covering moves and trying to get in the break but it eventually paid off when Adam Kenway got in the move of the day. However that meant I paid for my efforts later on in the race when things kicked off again. Although all in all it was a pretty cool experience and loved racing on the cobbles!

Q: With racing cancelled, what’s a typical week training wise for you?
Chris: For me, I’ve tried not to change too much and tried to keep up a similar routine to what I would have been doing if I was racing. I’m still working my 9-5 hours from home so I’m really fortunate to have the ability to work from home. I base training around work and I’ve been doing heaps of Zwift races. I’m trying to use those to keep me motivated and give me something to aim for.

Are you enjoying using the turbo or avoiding it like the virus?
Chris: I’m enjoying the turbo. I think it’s a lot more interactive than it used to be thanks to the likes of Zwift and other online training platforms. I’ve still been out doing the odd ride outdoors but trying to keep it really local to home. I’d hate to be that numpty that had a silly crash and put additional strain on the NHS. I live out in the countryside so I have a few nice 5km loops straight from my door so can just stick to local laps and the turbo until the situation eases.

Q: If on the turbo, what’s your favourite distraction – Zwift or some other entertainment?
Chris: I normally have Zwift running alongside a good Netflix documentary or series. I’ve just started the new Movistar documentary which is pretty good so far! Zwift races are also a decent distraction and can usually push yourself harder than if you were just doing a workout on the turbo. Both BC and Cycling Ireland are running Zwift races along with loads of super competitive community races so you’re never stuck finding a hard virtual race. I set my all-time best 30 min power the other day in a Zwift TT!

Q: What’s the hardest thing for you about the Lockdown
Chris: To be honest I’ve not really found it that hard yet. I’m super fortunate to be in a good position that I can work and train from home as can my partner so we have each other and our little westie for company! Carly and I were due to get married in Spain in June this year so we’ve had to postpone that, but we’re both fit and healthy which is the main thing. My Mum manages a nursing home so still has to go into work every day so that’s been a bit stressful that she’s more at risk to being exposed to the virus. But yeah I’m very fortunate and can’t begin to imagine the stress that every single NHS worker and essential worker is feeling right now, huge respect to them.

Q: Besides cycling, what’s your biggest distraction as lock down continues?
Chris: Work ha ha! That keeps me busy through the week. I have some really cool projects I’m working on so that has kept me busy. Other than that, Carly and I cracked out a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle the other night so have been chipping away at that!

Q: What’s the weirdest thing you have seen since this crisis began
Chris: Just how irresponsible some people have been throughout this whole crisis. From the panic buying of loo rolls to people treating social distancing/ lockdown like it’s a holiday! The sooner we all treat this as seriously as it deserves to be treated, the sooner we can hopefully go back to normal.

Q: Where you do you enjoy riding your Vitus the most in this country or abroad?
Chris: The smooth roads in Spain are nice however you can’t beat a nice day at home up the north coast of Ireland. We have some beautiful coastline and I think I enjoy spins up there the most.

Q: What size deep section Prime wheels do you use in training?
Chris: I train on the new Prime Baroudeur alloy wheels. They are 30mm deep and are quite light for an alloy disc brake wheelset. They make for an amazing year round training wheel. I’d race at home on these normally in early season too when the weather is still a bit rough.

Q: What Namedsport Energy products do you use most on a training ride?
Chris: The HydraFit probably on longer rides as the added minerals help stop cramping. On shorter rides, I normally just train using water and bring a few of their total energy fruit bars. They have some great flavours so sometimes have to stop myself from eating too many!

Q: What Schwalbe tyres are you using on your training wheels?
Chris: For training, I would use the new Pro One TLE ADDIX in 28c. The wider tires add a bit more comfort and allow you to run lower tyre pressures. Helps when training on the rough roads in NI!

Q: With winter still with us, how many Velotec layers do you start a ride with?
Chris: The Velotec kit has been amazing this year. I’ve been mainly training in the Pro bib tights, the elite winter jacket or pro long sleeve jersey paired with a LS Megmeister base layer. Elite winter gloves and custom Velotec Vitus buff to finish it off. Not had to layer too much as the quality of their winter kit has been great and kept me toasty in sub zero temps!

Thank you Chris, Brand Marketing Manager for Vitus & Prime and good luck for the tough times ahead.

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